The struggle continues

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 

 

Tutors:
Grégoire Binois, Robi Morder/ Historians

Project manager:
Florise Pagès

 

Objectives:
One of key dates for understanding modern-day France is May ’68. The event’s capacity to describe what’s happening today is partly due to its controversial nature. Apparently, no-one can really agree about what happened at the time or about the scope of the changes that were expected, desired or feared.

Workshops:
Day After Day
First of all, the students had to put May ‘68 back into context, with regard to both its day-to-day timeframe and its era. Using different types of archives (press reports, leaflets, audiovisual footage, photos, etc.), the contributor not only provided an overview of the sequence of events and the forces present (universities, students, workers, etc.) but also discussed differentiating between memory and history and where to find these archives, how to access them, who produced them and to what aim – all fundamental aspects of the historian’s profession that the students discovered.

Over Time
During a work session at the Cité des Mémoires Etudiantes, the students handled real archives of witness accounts. They developed the main issues of the revolt, moving beyond received ideas to grasp the fact that it was not a single event (created by the media) but rather a coming together of numerous, miscellaneous movements. This was followed by a visit to the classroom by witnesses who experienced May ‘68 from the inside as students or as the children of “soixante-huitards” (those who took part in the events). The personal accounts of these witnesses revealed the flaws and tensions in this idealised struggle but also how it became the leitmotif for deeply-held convictions and long-term activism for some people.

What About Us?
The students identified some of the struggles and gains in ‘68 or post-68, the repercussions of which affect them deeply: sexual liberation, contraception, social inequality, etc. They then put them into perspective with their own demands and discussed their own ideals. Various topics emerged and were discussed in class: the death penalty, gender discrimination, pollution, etc.

Showcase:
In May ‘68, before the existence of mobile phones and the Internet, how did activists spread their messages? Inspired by the posters and leaflets of the time designed and printed by the Atelier des Beaux Arts (Fine Arts workshop), the students borrowed their aesthetic and stylistic codes to give shape to the messages they wanted to convey with regard to the struggle of ‘68 and of the society they live in in 2018. With the help of a screen printer who came to set up his/her workshop in the school, the class applied ink to the screen prints, dried them and displayed a series of posters in the mobilised school.

Acknowledgements:
Ioanna Kasapi / Cité des mémoires étudiantes, Aubervilliers; Julie Pagis, Anne-Marie Lagrave/ sociologists, Sang d'encre/ atelier de sérigraphie

 

Outings :
- Work session studying the archives at the Cité des Mémoires Etudiantes, Aubervilliers
- “Images en Lutte” exhibition of May 68 posters at the Beaux-Arts, Paris
- “Icônes de Mai 68, les images ont une histoire” exhibition and cinema-tract workshop at the BNF, Paris 
- “May ‘68” guided tour of the Latin Quarter, Paris

Participating schools:
- Class 4è C, collège Paul Eluard, Montreuil
- Class 3è 2, collège Jean Renoir, Bondy

 

Photos: PIERRE ANTOINE

The struggle continues
The struggle continues
The struggle continues
The struggle continues
The struggle continues
The struggle continues